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Variable-speed pumps are not just a trend, they are a need

Monetary motivation

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Variable-speed pump (VSP) versus single-speed pump.

It is always preferable to want to do something versus having to do it—either way money can be a great motivator. It is accepted that VSPs can save up to 90 per cent on energy costs compared to a single-speed pump. They match a pool’s needs versus a single-speed pump running at full power, 100 per cent of the time.As further validation, the EPA asserts Energy Star® certified pool pumps will usually:

  • save the pool owner more than $1,000 over the pump’s lifetime;
  • pay for themselves in less than two years; and
  • operate quieter and prolong the life of the pool’s filtration system.

The EPA notes in warmer climates where pools are used year-round, savings can be significantly higher.

Utility rebates

Beyond energy savings, there are other revenue resources available to pool owners. For example, a number of utility companies may offer rebate incentives to pool owners to encourage the purchase of energy-efficient swimming pool pumps. Taking into consideration the number of utilities across North America that offer some type of rebate—in addition to manufacturer rebates—this can be a significant external influence.

Technological advancements

VSPs can be likened to HDTVs. Once consumers can see the advancements over the previous technology, there is simply no going back.

Further, many compare the single-speed pump to a light switch—it is either on or off. A VSP is more like a dimmer switch, allowing the pump to be dialed to whatever speed is necessary and operating only when it is required.

In addition to tremendous energy savings, operating pumps at lower intervals have multiple benefits, including:

  • better filtration;
  • incredibly quiet operation;
  • less stress lengthens equipment life; and
  • longer filter cycles keep chemicals in circulation longer

Technological advancements in calculating energy savings is another factor in the increasing popularity of VSPs. There are many apps and online calculators that can help customize the energy savings to the individual. In fact, many manufacturers have virtual user interfaces for each of its VSP models.

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Some systems even allow users to simulate pump operation on the control panel, allowing them to adjust the pump to different speeds by simply sliding the app buttons to view actual savings when operating the pump at different speeds.

After entering the place of residence, pool professionals and homeowners alike can use these energy-saving calculators and/or apps to estimate the parameters that the user can adjust to their specific situation. These options include: horsepower of current pump; average daily run time of pool; rate currently paid for electricity (in dollars per kWh); pool size (in litres/gallons); and the approximate length of the pool season.

Using this information, the app will demonstrate how much can be saved in energy costs by switching to a VSP in conjunction with other energy-saving equipment. Some systems even allow users to simulate pump operation on the control panel, allowing them to adjust the pump to different speeds by simply sliding the app buttons to view actual savings when operating the pump at different speeds. This further helps users appreciate the energy savings potential when running pumps at lower speeds.

Ultimately, manufacturers are hoping to raise pool owner’s and operator’s awareness of what is possible in terms of energy and cost savings.

The pump affinity law

Another law that has nothing to do with legislation is the ‘pump affinity law,’ which deals with the relationship between motor speed, flow rates, and energy consumption. This law states that power consumption drops at a nonlinear rate as pump speed is reduced. By cutting the motor speed in half, the flow rate is also reduced to half, but the power consumption of the pool pump is reduced to approximately one-eighth of the original draw. Proper time and speed settings will ensure energy savings are the highest possible.

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